Date Night: Yes, The Waiter Is Watching


“I’m a waiter, and an uninvited participant in just about every date you’ve ever been on.” And herewith, Nerve’s Ben Reininga gives us 5 common scenarios:

I used to be weirdly paranoid about people knowing I was on first dates. “Don’t you hate that people can probably guess that this is our first date and they’re covertly watching and speculating?” I once asked a pleasant young man. He looked confused. “I’m sure they don’t care,” he said. Ha! Clearly the man had never waited tables and dipped in and out of people’s lives over the course of a meal. Or, for that matter, whiled away a solitary meal by examining fellow diners.

In case your paranoia needed confirmation, check out Reininga’s amusing discourse on five different couples he’s served in the past week. There’s the hot-and-heavy early daters; the awkward first; the silent long-term partners, the breakup, the parent-meet (“If you don’t think that sounds like a big deal for the waiter, you’ve obviously never tried to inconspicuously clear plates in the midst of a “You never told us she wasn’t Catholic” conversation.”)

To these archetypes, I’d add the weirdly jokey couple who perform for the server, the self-conscious celebrity who gives all her orders through her date (not naming names here) and charges the whole room with a certain faux-blase electricity, and, of course, the Birthday/Proposal which adds an element of irritation and excitement, respectively, to a server’s evening. (To say nothing of fellow diners, who get to cheer and sing. Well, depending on the outcome.)

But as the piece makes, clear, Reininga’s attitudes are generally benevolent. Sure, he wants a good tip at the end of the date, but it’s more than that: as he says, the date’s outcomes have more than just a monetary effect. Of happy new couples he reflects

At times when I’ve been single or recently heart-broken, tables like this have been bitter reminders of everything I’m missing out on, causing emergency cigarette breaks and ill-conceived text messages to ex-lovers sent furtively from the wait station. Also, this couple’s exuberance interrupts the mechanics of dining. They go in for quick kisses while ordering and gaze into one another’s eyes endlessly while their untouched dinners get cold. And when I return to drop their check, they’re making out shamelessly, in the weird but common belief that because they are sitting and I am standing, I cannot see them.

And if this piece reminds us of nothing else, servers certainly can.

Tables For Two [Nerve]

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